Thursday, May 31, 2018

Summertime and the living ain't easy.....

Does the word summer break elicit joy and excitement for you or dread and despair?  😉.   I must say for me, it's a little of both.  I love the slower pace, the lack of homework and the warmer temperatures so we can be outside more. However,  I am by nature an introvert and need my solitary time to stay sane.  So summertime with my kids around ALL.THE.TIME.  makes me a bit crazy honestly.  Even though my kids are getting older, they still are around and want to be fed every second and utter the dreaded words "I'm bored" about every 5 minutes.  In past summers I have had "I'm bored jars" where they draw a paper or popsicle stick out of the jar if they absolutely couldn't find something to do.  It might have a fun idea on what they draw out, or it might have a job.  They didn't know beforehand.  It often curbed their boredom quickly...haha.

I'm not of the opinion that being bored is a bad thing for kids, but my children absolutely think it's a death sentence.   And their whining about it can drive this mama batty.  I feel strongly that I am not their entertainment coordinator and I don't buy into the thought that a memorable summer can only be created by checking things off an elaborate bucket list or paying a lot of money for classes, camps or amusement parks.   My summers growing up consisted of playing in our cul de sac, getting filthy dirty,  riding my purple sparkly banana seat bike to the local swimming club to hang out with friends (no mom in sight) and drinking from hoses when we got thirsty. We had a family vacation, trip to the close by family cabin and maybe one trip to the zoo to round things out.   I think that kind of simple summer is healthy and memorable in it's own right.

Don't get me wrong, I love love playing with my kids.  We love going swimming, on hikes, to the library, cookouts and making s'mores in the backyard.  We love having friends in and out of the house, eating otter pops and neighborhood bikes in the front yard. We have a  few fun adventures planned  like a family reunion, trip to the family cabin, camping,  the zoo, water park and aquarium throughout the summer, but summer is as much time for me to slow down and relax as it is for my kids so if I am feeling the pressure to plan their daily activities that is not relaxing for me.  Believe me they would much rather have YOU playing with them and being present  than any elaborately planned activity.

We have some structure as well.  In our house screens don't go on until after lunch, some summers I have been better an enforcing that than others.  However as I've been reading, doing research and listening to Collin Kartchner (follow him on Instagram, what he is saying is so very important), this summer we absolutely will be having less screen time at our house.

 Here is what our mornings look like. We really like to sleep in, (including me) so we do! Then when we get up and going they will have a couple of household jobs, piano practice, at least 30 minutes of physical activity and 45 minutes of reading must happen before any screens can ever go on.They each will have a summer job list with these things listed that they check off.  Here is a link to a ready made job list you can print out.  I will laminate these and hang them on the wall.  I'm not big on doing worksheets or schoolwork during the summer, their job is playing and being kids.

Another thing we work on during the summer is "life skills".  It looks different for different ages.  For my 8 and 10 year old they will learn to make simple meals by helping to fix lunch regularly.  My 13 year old will learn to do his laundry independently.  My 17 year old will learn about money and a budget and how to change a tire and oil and anything else I feel like I frantically need to shove into this summer because next summer he graduates  from high school and is an adult!  😳.

There are a  few of my thoughts and ideas for summer.  Each family is different so yours will look different from mine.   Don't feel the pressure from Instagram and other social media that you have to plan out every second or do elaborate crafts every day or spend a ton of money.  Go play, have fun, simplify, get out in nature, be present, play play play with your kids, don't forget self care and taking care of yourself, go out and make simple, fun memories!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Get in the pool!

A few summers ago my husband and 5 children were making plans to go to the local water park for a few hours.  I was hemming and hawing over whether to go.  My excuse was that I had so much to do and could really use a few hours of a quiet house to get them done in.  However, my real reason was I did NOT want to put on a swimming suit.  The last few years have played havoc on my body with various health issues, and let's be honest here, a few too many carbs and chocolate indulgences and. not enough working out.   I just didn't want to deal with my own insecurities of going out in public in a swimsuit.   I had decided I wouldn't go with them and said so.  My  6 year old daughter had an obvious look of disappointment on her face about my choice and said to me, "Mom you just have to come, it's so much more fun when you are there.  We love playing with you!"  

I had a change in perspective right there in my kitchen.  My insecurities were petty and minor.  I wasn't going to let them hold me back from making memories and having fun with my kids!  I went with them and we had the best time.  The joy on my kids faces when they watched me scream down the waterslide was something I'll never forget.  Since then I have made a conscious choice each summer to put that swimming suit on and get in the pool!  My kids don't care one bit what I look like in my suit, but they do care that I am in the water playing, laughing and having the best time.

One of my favorite phrases to remember in parenting is to "begin with the end in mind."  In the end I want my children to remember a mom who loved to be with them, who loves laughing and having fun and making the best memories.  They won't remember the number size on my swimming suit or the fact that I don't have a thigh gap, they will remember much more important things.